By Ron Wells | August 8, 2001

It ain’t easy being a mother, especially when you have to clean up the dead bodies they leave in the yard. It’s even harder for Margaret Hall (Tilda Swinton) who has to raise her three children in Lake Tahoe and care for her aging father-in-law while her navy husband is out at sea. Teenage son Beau (Jonathan Tucker) is a talented musician struggling with his homosexuality. One night he ends up struggling with his special “friend”, nightclub owner Darby Reese (Josh Lucas) in the Hall family boathouse by their lakefront home. Unbeknownst to the young Hall, Darby failed to walk away from that confrontation. The next morning, Margaret discovers the body, panics, then drags the stiff corpse into a boat and dumps him in the middle of the lake.
Problems ensue due to an item Darby left with loan shark Carlie Nagle (Raymond Barry). Nagle sends Alek Spera (Goran Visnjic) to blackmail Beau’s parents, but neither Margaret nor Alek are quite prepared for what fate has dealt them.
Co-writers/producers/directors based this film on the Elizabeth Sanxay Holding novel “The Blank Wall”. The absolute two best things in this movie are Swinton and Visjnic, the Croatian George Clooney. Unfortunately, Visjnic’s character is completely undeveloped beyond the nuances the actor conveys in his performance. We have no idea where he came from and why he could possibly be working for the brutal Nagle. Beau’s secret life is given scant time beyond the immediate repercussions of certain actions.
The real focus here is on Margaret and the intrusion this crisis places on her family’s domestic life. It can’t be easy to keep your cool when your kids’ transportation demands interferes with your attempts to raise extortion money. Still, too much of the story and character relationships remain undercooked, leaving a film that is diverting but not memorable.

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